Skip to Main Content

Evaluating Sources

Evaluating Articles


Scholarly Journals

Trade Journals

Popular Magazines



Social Psychology Quarterly

Advertising Age


New York Times


Primary account of original research; In-depth analyses of issues in the field; Articles often include abstract, method, discussion, tables, conclusion, and references

Current news, trends, or products in an industry or professional organization; Statistics, forecasts, employment and career information

Current events and news; General information with purpose to entertain or inform; Analyses of popular culture; Secondary account of someone else's research that may include opinion

Current events and news that may be local, regional, national or international; Ads, editorials, speeches; Primary source for information on events


Academic, technical jargon that uses the language of the discipline; Requires some relevant expertise

Specialized jargon or terminology of the field; Written for practitioners/professionals

Easily understandable, non-technical language; Written for the layperson

Written for a general audience; Understandable language


Researchers, scholars, professors, etc.

Practitioners in the field, industry professionals, or journalists with subject expertise

Journalists or staff writers

Journalists or staff writers


References, footnotes or bibliographies are always included

References in text or short bibliographies are occasionally included

References are rarely included

Rarely cite sources in full


Journal's editorial board, or if peer-reviewed, external scholars in the same field

Work for the publisher

Work for the publisher

Work for the publisher


Universities, scholarly presses, or academic organizations

Commercial publishers or trade and professional organizations

Commercial publishers

Commercial publishers

Example Databases

Academic Search Premier, JSTOR, Sociological Abstracts, Historical Abstracts

ABI Inform, Business Source Premier, ERIC, SPORTDiscus

Readers Guide Abstracts, Academic OneFile, Academic Search Premier

LexisNexis Academic, Access World News, Library Press Display

Source: Northwestern University Libraries

Scholarly vs. Peer Reviewed

Not all scholarly articles are peer reviewed; however, all peer reviewed articles are scholarly.  If in doubt, the best way to determine if an article is peer reviewed is to check the journal's website or ask a librarian!

Characteristics of a Scholarly Article


What is Peer Review?

Peer Review FAQs

What is Peer Review?

Peer Review is a process used to ensure the quality of articles submitted to a scholarly journal for publishing.  Before an article is accepted for publishing, it is reviewed by both the editor of the journal and a team of outside experts in the field [the authors' peers].  The reviewers, or referees, critically evaluate the soundness of the research and the validity of the findings, and they recommend that the article be accepted, rejected, or revised and resubmitted.

Why do I care if an article is peer-reviewed?

Peer-review provides extra authority and credibility to an article!

How do I find peer-reviewed articles?

Peer-reviewed articles can be found in OneSearch and in the library's databases, and may be labeled with an icon saying "Academic Journal". 

Remember, OneSearch and many of our databases allow you to limit your results to scholarly/peer-reviewed only!  Look for that filter in all Ebsco databases.

Most of our specialized/subject databases only contain peer-reviewed journals.

How can I be sure that an article is peer-reviewed?

The best way to determine if an article is peer-reviewed is by looking at the journal's website.  Do a google search for the journal title and look for a description stating that it is "peer-reviewed" or "refereed" [try the home page or an about page].  Still have doubts?  Ask a Librarian!